Peter Broelman

Tributes flow for Steve Irwin, 10 years after his death

ON September 4, 2006, the nation was plunged into mourning when news broke that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was dead.

The larger-than-life conservationist, environmentalist, adventurer and businessman had died in the waters off Far North Queensland when a stingray barb punctured his heart.

The news sent ripples around the world, where Steve's TV shows were growing in popularity.

Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin Sunshine Coast Daily

At Australia Zoo, families broke down in tears when they heard the news from members of the media.

A trickle of floral tributes at the entrance to the zoo quickly turned into a mountain.

Even Prime Minister John Howard, who had visited the zoo not long before Steve's death, said he was "the Australian many of us aspire to be".

"He epitomised, to so many people around the world what they saw to be uniquely Australian characteristics."

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie offered a state funeral and the flags over Sydney Harbour Bridge were flown at half-mast while on-line media outlets promoted calls for office workers to don khaki for a day in the Crocodile Hunter's honour.

But it was his millions of fans across the globe who were hardest hit and Steve's public memorial service was broadcast live from Australia Zoo to an estimated global audience of 300 million people.

24/07/05      131888fBindy's birthday celebrtaions at Australia Zoo.Bindy celebrates her 6th birthday with her dad Steve Irwin.Photo Warren Lynam
Bindy celebrating her 6th birthday at Australia Zoo with her dad. Warren Lynam

"He burnt a hole in the fabric of our lives as he jumped through the television and grabbed you by the scruff of the neck," long-time friend John Stainton told ABC Radio recently.

Steve's long-time friend said people always wanted to know if Irwin was different in front of the camera than in real life.

"It was never a put on, he was larger than life in life," he said.

"He had that magnetism and there was nothing like him before."

Ten years after his death, Steve Irwin's fans are as loyal as ever and have taken to social media to pay tribute.

"I just stood there in shock," David Tucker said on the Daily's facebook page.

"I felt like my heart was ripped out. Ten years on I still can't believe it."

Others took to the Daily's page to recall where they were when they heard news of Steve's death.

It was my son's 14th birthday, Steve was his hero. It was the hardest moment picking him up from school on his birthday to tell him this news - he was shattered! Steve would be proud of his achievements now though as a great Sunny Coast and ocean photographer - his passion and love of the ocean is as infectious as Steve's! A very special day in so many ways - not a day for mourning but a day for appreciation of an amazing life!

Wendy Turnbridge

We had just landed in Singapore on our flight to Australia. We were migrating to Australia and had always wanted to visit Steve at the zoo. Devastated was an understatement! It was all over the news, such a sad day.

Vicky Arnold

I was staying with my daughter's family in East Sussex, England. My husband phoned from Hayling Island with the news of Steve... I was distraught as have seen Steve feeding his crocs at his zoo. But it was even worse having to tell our grandson as Steve was his hero.

Rowena Dowse

I was on site working, having a good day then a mate rang to tell me. I just stood there in shock and said "Are you sure? It must be bull", then everyone was ringing. I went silent for 30 minutes, felt like my heart was ripped out. I packed up and went home to hear more news. Ten years on, I still cannot believe it.

David Tucker

I was at work and I remember thinking it felt really eerie and strange in the playground and then a parent told me. I was shocked. My son was six at the time and he cried he'd lost his hero.

Sally White

I was lucky to go to the zoo only weeks before with Palaco, my Brazilian uni student, who was in awe of meeting this hero he had heard about. It was just brilliant to watch Steve. I haven't been able to go back since. RIP Steve.

Gail Lockyer

I was visiting my old school and teachers, showing off my newborn when kids running down hallway yelling "Steve has died, he's dead!" I did not believe it.

Alicia Freeman

I was in New Zealand on a skiing holiday. Ten years - it doesn't seem that long ago.

Jodie Merrett

I was getting petrol and I heard it on the radio. I didn't think it was real. Every time I go past that petrol station I think of poor Steve. So sad.

Susan Courtnage McHenry

That was a terrible week, losing Steve Irwin on the Monday and then ending the week with the loss of another aussie legend, Peter Brock, on the Friday.

Michele Thomas

I was laying on the bed in the spare room, home from school sick. I remember it being quite a shock as I'd seen him perform earlier in the year at Australia Zoo.

Shane Parish

I had started work at 5am that day and didn't know. Had heaps of customers telling me about it. It was a shock all round.

Sarah Elizabeth Harrison

I was dropping a neighbour's kid at Mooloolaba TAFE. Was in absolute shock. Hadn't long seen him up close at the zoo feeding the crocs. So very missed.

Sue Rush

I just remember telling my daughter 7 .. It was like someone from our own family had died so very sad and unexpected.

Beth Wild

I was at school in grade 4. I was in the library then went back and told my classmates and no one believed me.

Jayda Vive Girle

I was in Africa at an airport waiting for a connecting flight. Saw it on a little TV. Couldn't quite believe it. RIP Steve.

Cheree Clarke

I was at uni studying environmental science dreaming that he would one day be my boss. My mum called and told me to sit while she told me. I spent the rest of the day in tears. No celeb death has affected me like that but he was my idol.

Pammie Griffith

One of the hardest things about this I remember was watching Bindi on TV speak at the funeral. It was especially difficult to watch because I watched it with Jason, and I know he knew that this was something that our girls would have to face at some point and it just broke his heart. We donated to the zoo in Australia. We cried together. We talked a lot in those moments about the future and then we got back to living life the way we knew how, for the moment. Enjoying the time we had right then.

Melodi Willis Golde

We were honored that we got to visit Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. By far the best I have ever been too! His legacy and presence there will continue on for many years to come! He was always my Saturday morning TV favorite growing up!!

Whitley Creel

Steve Irwin is honestly one of my reasons for becoming a wildlife biologist. I grew up in the 90s and remember when Crocodile Hunter first debuted on Discovery, then went to the new channel Animal Planet.

My love of the outdoors and all things grew thanks to this man and seeing that he was able to take the same fondness of the world around us and use it to inspire others to look at the world the same way we did.

Years later, I am a few semesters away from graduating with my bachelors in Wildlife & Fisheries management while aiming for graduate school. I am in several conservation societies including Sea Shepherd and have travelled to almost half the United States all the while working on both state and federal projects and writing both articles and books about conservation.

I have been very fortunate to have the life I do and I want to thank not only my family and friends for all the support and love they have given me but also the Irwin family for raising such an inspirational human being that has touched the lives of so many people, some like myself continents away.

Rest in Peace Steve, you may be gone but I promise you, you will never be forgotten!

Phil Carter

Steve Irwin was one of my heroes - a statement I am not ashamed to make.

I remember the day he died. I saw it flash over the TV screen I felt like I had lost a close friend.

This passionate young Aussie larrikin managed to touch the world as no other Aussie ever has (estimated at 300 million people). But it wasn't just Steve's passion for wildlife that impressed me, nor the fact that he was a real man's man in a world with no shortage of wussy, in-love-with-their mirror, it was the passion and love he openly showed for his family.

Despite his passion for crocodiles and snakes he openly declared his love for his wife Terri and his kids more than anything. Hardly a show went by at his beloved at Australia Zoo where Steve didn't make mention of his children, Bindy and Bob.

Steve succeeded in shaking the Australian macho image as he shed a tear or two whenever he spoke about the loves of his life. Here was a man's man yet his passion was obvious to all and he was not ashamed to let it show.

Crikey, we miss you mate!

Col Stringer